TODAY'S TOP STORY: The latest skirmish in the music industry's war with Pandora kicked off in New York yesterday as the legal battle over what royalties the streaming service should pay American collecting society BMI reached court. What royalties Pandora pays all music right stakeholders - so labels, artists, publishers and songwriters - has been a contentious topic of debate within the... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: First approved in 2013 as a trio with an invisible-in-promo-shots drummer, London-based long-haireds Novella are now officially a band of five. They'll ease into this fleshier new phase in their career with their first LP, 'Land', which is sighted for release on 12 May via Sinderlyn, sister label to the world-famed Captured Tracks. Stemming the wait till then, Novella have previewed... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES BMI v Pandora royalties dispute reaches court
Next Big Sound tops most innovative music company list
LEGAL AKB48 attacker sentenced to six years in prison
DEALS Peermusic confirms new agreement with IMPEL
LIVE BUSINESS Iceland Airwaves in the spotlight: music boosts tourism, tourism boosts music
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES RapidShare to close
Deezer launches Elite high quality streaming service worldwide via Sonos partnership
ARTIST NEWS First NWA biopic trailer goes online
RELEASES There's a new Florence And The Machine video thing
ONE LINERS Australia in Eurovision, Madonna on Grindr, Suede named Godlike, and other things that are actually happening
AND FINALLY... Miley Cyrus short film to screen at porn festival
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BMI v Pandora royalties dispute reaches court
The latest skirmish in the music industry's war with Pandora kicked off in New York yesterday as the legal battle over what royalties the streaming service should pay American collecting society BMI reached court.

What royalties Pandora pays all music right stakeholders - so labels, artists, publishers and songwriters - has been a contentious topic of debate within the American music community for some time, of course, and more so since Pandora floated so that its finances are more public, and as the service has boomed so to become a significant revenue stream for the music rights industry at large.

In the main, Pandora's royalty rates are governed by statute and the courts, because the labels are forced to licence through the SoundExchange collective licensing system (unless they can persuade the digital firm to do otherwise), while the music publishers have licensed their performing rights to the service through their collecting societies - BMI and ASCAP - which are subject to the so called 'consent decrees', meaning disputes over royalty rates have to be settled in court.

As Pandora grew in size, the big US publishers decided that they shouldn't licence Pandora through BMI and ASCAP, because if they did direct deals - away from consent decree regulations - they could demand more money without the risk of the matter being taken to copyright court. And indeed, the big publishers started to withdraw their digital rights from the collecting societies, and some did negotiate more favourable direct deals.

But then there was a dispute over whether or not the publishers could withdraw before Pandora's current licence agreements with ASCAP and BMI expired (the courts said 'no' with the ASCAP licence, but 'yes' with BMI).

Then everyone started saying that under current consent decree rules the publishers couldn't withdraw just their digital rights from the collective licensing system, it was either all in or all out. And when Sony/ATV decided to bluff, and said "alright then, maybe we'll pull all our rights", the more savvy music lawyers mused "hmm, check your songwriter contracts, is that even possible? Certainly not with non-US repertoire".

But then veteran artist manager Irving Azoff said (and we paraphrase slightly): "Well, I represent some of the world's biggest songwriters, and we're pulling our rights, so fuck you YouTube". Which was unnecessary. I mean, who mentioned YouTube? It's all a bit of a confusing mess, isn't it? But that's not my fault. And if you complain I'll throw mechanical licensing into the mix and then you'll all fall over.

Anyway, to backtrack slightly, somewhat ironically the BMI licence Pandora has been busy trying to enforce to stop the publishers pulling from collective licensing isn't even fully agreed. The sticking point being royalties, and that's what is at the heart of this current court case. Which makes it, in principle, quite simple. Pandora wants to pay 1.75% of its revenue to BMI, while the collecting society wants 2.5%.

Though all of the previously mentioned complications will be brought up by attorneys for both parties as this court battle proceeds. Already yesterday, in its opening arguments, BMI cited the provisional direct deals done between Pandora and Sony/ATV and Universal as proof that the 1.75% rate undervalued the songs catalogue BMI represents. While Pandora's legal reps said the circumstances of those direct deals - amidst all the confusion over what repertoire could be pulled by whom and when - made the rates agreed unreliable.

Meanwhile, Pandora stressed that it was arguing for the status quo, sticking with the royalty rate it has paid BMI since the outset. For his part, BMI's lawyer said that his client's first deal with Pandora was experimental at a time when the service was tiny. And when said deal was renewed for the first time, even though the collecting society reckoned its catalogue was being undervalued, revenues from the streaming service at that point didn't warrant the cost of a lengthy legal battle. But by 2015, everything has changed.

The court hearing is expected to last three weeks. The outcome will be important to both BMI and Pandora, though possibly only for a time, if the current review of BMI and ASCAP's consent decrees results - as the publishers hope - in a much more flexible system for the rights owners.


Next Big Sound tops most innovative music company list
And now, it gives me great pleasure - courtesy of the diligent dudes at Fast Company magazine and their ever insightful mission to list some companies they heard someone mention once - to reveal this year's most innovative music company. And the company doing music most innovatively in 2015 is, of course, Next Big...

Oh hang on, Kanye West's just walked into the office. What's that Kanye? "If Fast Company, if they want real innovators to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us... because we ain't going to play with them no more. Next Big Sound need to respect artistry and they should give their award to Beyonce".

He's right you know. What does Fast Company magazine know? Fancy putting Beyonce's company Parkwood Entertainment second in a list of the most innovative music companies. Fuck that, we're talking about Beyonce here. Of course her company is the most innovative. I mean, surprise album release everybody! Putting Next Big Sound top, what the fuck? Fast Company? Fast Racists more like.

Elsewhere in the list, Deezer comes in at three, six slots above Spotify, because there's nothing innovative about being the market leader, that's for sure. is in at four because, well, wow,, what an innovation! Ticketfly is in at five because, well, wow, Ticketfly, what an innovation! Sonos is in at six because, well, wow Sonos, what an innovation! And in at seven: SFX. Because, well, it forced the term EDM on us all, which was definitely innovative. Innovations can be shit too.

Jack White's Third Man Music and direct-to-fan pre-sale specialists PledgeMusic complete the ten. Ha, ten companies in your top ten! What's innovative about that? Here's the list in a list for fans of lists. Though don't forget, non-racists would but Parkwood top.

1. Next Big Sound
2. Parkwood Entertainment
3. Deezer
5. Ticketfly
6. Sonos
7. SFX
8. Third Man Records
9. Spotify
10. PledgeMusic

AKB48 attacker sentenced to six years in prison
A man who attacked two members of Japanese pop group AKB48 and a security guard at a meet-and-greet event last May has been sentenced to six years in prison.

As previously reported, Satoru Umeta attacked both Rina Kawae and Anna Iriyama with a saw, and the security guard who came to the defence of the nineteen year old women, severely injuring all three.

At the beginning of his trial in November, Umeta admitted the charges against him. According to The Japan Times, prosecutors said that he had carried out the attack due to the "boring life he led every day, with no income or jobs, after being fired from a job as a security guard".

Prosecutors added that, during a police interview, Umeda had said: "I felt that I was completely opposite the AKB members, who earned a lot of money, and wanted to vent my frustration at them".

Sentencing him yesterday, Judge Takehiko Okada said: "What he did was a dangerous act that might have claimed the lives of the victims".

Although briefly suspended in the wake of the attack, AKB48 have continued to make regular public appearances, albeit with increased security measures. Both Iriyama and Kawaei returned to the group, though have ceased to take part in meet-and-greets.

Peermusic confirms new agreement with IMPEL
Music publisher Peermusic has announced a new alliance with IMPEL, the scheme - and now separate entity - set up by UK mechanical rights collecting society MCPS to represent the mechanical side of song copyrights on a multi-territory basis in the digital domain for independent publishing companies. Which was a long sentence. Maybe read it through again.

Peermusic was, it says here, the first independent publisher to embark on pan-European licensing back in 2008, and its European President, Nigel Elderton, has now joined the newly formed IMPEL board. Although the PRS For Music company continues to manage both MCPS and IMPEL licensing, it now does so as a service provider, since MCPS ceased to be a shareholder in that business in 2013.

Confirming its new deal with the ramped up IMPEL, Peermusic CEO Ralph Peer II told reporters: "We are delighted to confirm our new agreement and look forward to developing the strength of our relationship with IMPEL. We have every confidence in IMPEL's new leadership, governance and services".

Meanwhile Jane Dyball, who leads both MCPS and IMPEL, added: "I'm delighted both personally and on behalf of IMPEL that we can continue to represent Peermusic's fantastic catalogue which ranges from evergreens to current hits. IMPEL is creating a 'must-have' repertoire for digital services, of which Peer is a cornerstone. Furthermore, to have Nigel as a member of the newly-founded IMPEL Board, is the icing on the cake".

Iceland Airwaves in the spotlight: music boosts tourism, tourism boosts music
The latest edition of the CMU Trends Report puts the spotlight on Iceland Airwaves, the annual festival that takes place in Reykjavík each autumn.

Born out of a marketing initiative by Icelandair to extend the Icelandic capital's tourist season, it's an interesting festival for many reasons. Not least because an event that capitalised on Iceland's music scene to boost tourism is now returning the favour, by acting as a showcase festival for new musical talent in the country.

And the Iceland Music Export office, which helped Iceland Airwaves survive the country's economic meltdown in 2009, is now seeking to help artists in the country better utilise that showcase platform.

The boss of IMX, Sigtryggur Baldursson (a prolific musician himself, and a founder member of The Sugarcubes) explained to CMU, after a panel on Airwaves at last month's Eurosonic conference: "The Icelandic music community knew Airwaves had become this big showcase. And that's why it was a good place to play. Though many weren't really capitalising on the opportunity. They'd play their set and just hope that the right people would be in the room. Which is totally understandable, I've been there myself. Most musicians are crappy at promoting themselves".

But, he went on: "In recent years we've been trying to make Airwaves a much better opportunity for Icelandic artists. Both by ironing out any issues and listening to the community, and also by explaining how artists can and should interact, with each other, and with the media and the industry who are at the event. We've put networking meetings into the festival and we provide a little more education, so that more artists now properly embrace the event, and use it for shameless self-promotion, as they totally should!"

You can read the full article looking at the origins of Iceland Airwaves, the event's relationship with Icelandair, how the festival survived Iceland's financial crash, and why international media partnerships are so important, in the latest CMU Trends Report. You can buy the report for £9.99 in the CMU Shop, or sign up for CMU Premium today and get a copy straight away. Multi-user subscriptions are also available for music companies here.

Iceland Airwaves 2015 takes place from 4-8 Nov. More information at

RapidShare to close
Long before the feds emerged on the horizon at dawn ready to stamp file-transfer service MegaUpload off the internet on the grounds it was a primarily a hub for rampant copyright infringement, copyright owners in Europe were busy taking RapidShare to court, a similar service that was similarly accused of enabling music, movie and software piracy.

RapidShare initially hit back at allegations of copyright infringement, but subsequently introduced a raft of refinements to its platform to hinder those using it primarily to share or access copyright infringing content. Which pleased the copyright owners, but pissed off a lot of RapidShare users.

Many of those users promptly jumped ship to file-transfer platforms with a more lax attitude/approach to piracy, resulting in flagging revenues and quite a bit of downsizing behind the scenes at the Swiss company. And it's assumed that that decline in the company's fortunes is behind the news that the RapidShare platform will go offline at the end of March.

Those using the service to store and share (though mainly store these days) their own digital files have been told they should download all their content in the next six weeks, because the service will disappear on 31 Mar, and after that date any files left on its servers will be deleted.

Which is sad for all involved in the company. Though rights owners would likely argue that RapidShare's demise as a result of introducing strict anti-piracy systems simply proves that its original success was down to the fact it was such a good source of unlicensed music and movies.


Deezer launches Elite high quality streaming service worldwide via Sonos partnership
Deezer has announced the global launch of its high quality streaming service, Deezer Elite, via wireless music system Sonos. This follows a US launch via the same partnership last year.

Initially the Deezer Elite service will only be available to existing Deezer customers, who can upgrade at no additional cost if subscribing for a full year. Sonos users on a promotional trial can also upgrade for 36 euros. It will become available to all across 150 territories from 19 Mar.

Exactly what price Deezer will charge new subscribers is not due to be announced until next month, though it will almost certainly be higher than a standard subscription to the streaming service. However, when launched in the US users were offered an introductory price of $9.99 per month for the first year, if the user committed to a twelve month contract, or $14.99 per month for a rolling subscription. After the introductory period, it will cost $19.99 per month.

It's likely, therefore, that UK users will be charged £19.99 per month following any introductory offer, similar to rival high quality audio streaming service Tidal.

Of course, the high price is one reason why high quality streaming is a niche product, and by allowing it to only be used within the Sonos system, Deezer is making its own a niche within a niche. Exactly what take-up Elite has had in the US to date isn't known, though Deezer reckons that the service as a whole has picked up over 200,000 new users since launching in the US - including users of the standard premium tier, available through Bose systems.

Says the company's North American CEO Tyler Goldman: "Our partnership with Sonos offers the ultimate experience for music fans, combining the best wireless home music system with the best music streaming solution. Given our early success, with over 200,000 new users in the first few months since launch, making the service available globally is a natural next step to satisfy the unmet needs of audio enthusiasts across all markets".

Sonos CEO John MacFarlane added: "There is a lot of momentum happening in streaming and it's going to keep getting better for music lovers. We're excited Deezer is pushing for even better quality and to bring Deezer Elite to more Sonos customers around the world".

Deezer has also released some research that says 65% of people who have used Deezer Elite would never listen to an MP3 again. Not one. Even by accident. And even though that probably means abandoning sections of their music collection forever. They just won't do it. Such is the power of often indistinguishable improvements in sound quality.

  Approved: Novella - Land Gone
First approved in 2013 as a trio with an invisible-in-promo-shots drummer, London-based long-haireds Novella are now officially a band of five. They'll ease into this fleshier new phase in their career with their first LP, 'Land', which is sighted for release on 12 May via Sinderlyn, sister label to the world-famed Captured Tracks.

Stemming the wait till then, Novella have previewed its lead single, a kind of negative of the LP's title named 'Land Gone'. The track finds the band leaning into the same salty, sleepy-head psych beat as on earlier singles 'He's My Morning' and 'Mary's Gun', digging cold, dark caves behind a bow-wave of rolling noise that crashes to a stop with their thrashiest finale yet.

Listen in here.
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First NWA biopic trailer goes online
The first trailer for NWA biopic 'Straight Outta Compton' has been released. And because the footage of the film on its own apparently isn't enough, it comes with an intro from Ice Cube and Dr Dre to explain why people should take notice.

"What a lot of people don't realise about NWA is that it was non-violent protest", says Ice Cube. "The same thing that we were going through in the 80s, people are going through right now".

Adds Dre: "We put it all in our music; all the frustration and anger. Our music was like our weapon, and that's the most powerful weapon we got. We gotta let people know it's OK to say what you wanna say. We kicked the door down for a lotta artists. It's a good time to tell our story. Tell some kids from Compton how we touched the world".

And if that's not enough, The Game and Kendrick Lamar also feature in the intro, the latter explaining: "When I think of NWA, it wasn't really like music to me, it was more like a real lifestyle. Brothers from my neighbourhood that made it out".

The trailer would actually have been enough without all that (the film looks pretty good), but the celebrity voxpops all goes to building up the film's hype, I guess. And there'll be plenty more before it comes out in August, I'd wager.

The trailer is also a chance to see Ice Cube's son O'Shea Jackson Jr playing his dad. It's a bit weird how much he looks like him. So that bit of casting was justified.

Anyway, now I've spoiled the whole thing for you, watch the trailer here.

There's a new Florence And The Machine video thing
The first new music from Florence And The Machine in, oh, ages and ages, appeared on YouTube yesterday.

The track, titled 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful', is mainly instrumental and doesn't feature any of Florence Welch's trademark shouting, but still gives a bit of an idea of what she's been up to in the studio.

The accompanying visuals see her dancing with a lookalike on an island, or something. The camera keeps panning up to the sky, so I guess that's the big, blue and beautiful thing she's referring too. Though it may still turn out to be an ode to an overweight smurf.

Anyway, I just thought I should give you a heads up. Here's the video.

Australia in Eurovision, Madonna on Grindr, Suede named Godlike, and other things that are actually happening

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• The Orchard has announced a strategic partnership with German music services company Membran Entertainment Group to expand both companies' reaches in Europe and worldwide. "Thrilled", said Orchard CEO Brad Navin, obviously. "Constellation", added Membran's Manlio Celotti.

• Australia will compete in this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Austria. The still to be named singer for the non-European country will get a pass straight to the grand final too. I know, bullshit, right? It's just a one-off though. "This", said contest overseer Jon Ola Sand. "Broadcasting", added Michael Ebeid of Aussie broadcaster SBS.

• In her bid to promote her new album on every bit of social media ever, Madonna has launched a competition on Grindr.

• Bands still insist on using bespoke videogames to promote their music, even though they're always, without fail, really rubbish and disappointing. Look, Torche have done it now.

• There's a new Kendrick Lamar track called 'The Blacker The Berry'. How good is it? This good.

• Well, Jessie J's going to release a new single, and there is apparently nothing we can do about it. It's called 'Masterpiece', it'll be out on 23 Mar, and this is it.

• I assume this here photo is something to do with the new Faith No More album.

• Emile Haynie has released a new track featuring not only Lykke Li, but also Romy from The xx. It's called 'Come Find Me'. Here it is.

• The Go! Team will play a live show at Village Underground in London on 17 Jun. The latest single from new album 'The Scene' is called 'Blowtorch'. How do I know? Because it's here.

• Icelandic musician Bardi Johannsson has dusted off his Bang Gang project for his first album under the name in seven years. There are no actual details of the album yet, but there is a single, 'Out Of Horizon'.

• Hardcore trio Maths are back with a new album for Tangled Talk Records. 'The Fires Courting The Sea' will be out on 23 Mar. It has a song on it with the same title, which is what this is.

• Ry X of The Acid and Frank Wiedemann of Âme and Innervisions have announced that they will release a collaborative album, titled 'Sacred Ground', under the name Howling. It'll be released by Counter Records and Monkeytown on 4 May. Video.

• Suede are going to receive the Godlike Genius award at this year's NME Awards. See? It's just a matter of waiting long enough.

Miley Cyrus short film to screen at porn festival
Miley Cyrus will star in a short film set to be screened at the NYC Porn Film Festival later this month. It's not what you're all thinking, though. It's actually "a pornoriffic-almost-parody [transformed] into artsploitation". So now you know.

The film, titled 'Tongue Tied' and directed by visual artist Quentin Jones, premiered in a shorter, two minute version on Nowness last year. This new cut will apparently run at four and a half minutes.

But how to explain its content? Well, the quote above was all pretty clear, wasn't it? and that came from Adult Magazine Editor Sarah Nicole Prickette, so let's have a bit more from her: "Miley Cyrus wears that bondage lightly. And literally. She stretches the definition of kink, making it pop. On stage, riding a giant hot dog, she grins like the girl who yells loudest in the 'penis!' game. She could stop, actually, if she wanted to... but she won't. She wears her latex like she's dressing up as herself for Halloween: 'I'm a Sexy Miley Cyrus! What are you?'"

Well, now we're all on the same page. The film will be shown alongside a number of other films, including Tequlia Tequlia sextape 'Backdoor & Squirting'. So, um, yeah. If you happen to be in the area, the event will take place at Secret Project Robot in New York on 27 Feb. Details here.

In other music/porn crossover news, FACT has spotted that Wu-Tang's RZA has been cast in an as-yet-untitled biopic about 70s/80s pornstar Vanessa Del Rio. It's being directed by music video man Thomas Mignone.

Now, to close, here's that original two minute cut of Miley Cyrus and Quentin Jones' 'Tongue Tied' (NSFW, obviously).

ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletin and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE | Co-Publisher, Business Editor & Insights Director
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business, and is MD of CMU publisher UnLimited Media.
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SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, plus helps manage and deliver the CMU Insights training courses and consultancy services.
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Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of UnLimited Media she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
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